Monday, June 25, 2012

Washington, DC

We dedicated 3 days to visiting DC, and nearly killed the kids, and ourselves for that matter, as we attempted to see as much as we could. Of course, DC was as incredible as ever!

Day 1

Day one of DC (Monday) was overcast and in the low 70's. It had drizzled in the early morning, so the temp was even a bit chilly at times.

We of course had to make a pit stop and grab new hoodies in order to make it through the day.

We knew that the weather was going to get warmer as the week progressed so we decided to hit the outside sites hard that day.

The girls marched though the streets of DC shouting out the cadence and singing patriotic songs. It was so funny to see the expressions on people's faces as they passed by. Several people gave them applause. They were giggling and having so much fun.
We saw the White House,
The Lincoln Memorial,

The Washington Memorial,

The MLK Memorial,

The Korean War Memorial,

Along with the Vietnam Wall and the World War Two Memorial.

We also spent some time indoors while we visited the Renwick Gallery.

(Decota's favorite piece which had really neat saying etched into the dress)

(An incredible piece which, at first we thought was stupid- just a grandfather clock with a sheet thrown over it- until we realized that the whole thing, sheet and all, we're really one piece of solid mahogany! It was amazing!)

We also made a quick trip through part of the Hirshhorn Gallery before it closed!

and a visit to the Air and Space Museum.

All in all it was a very productive day, but we were exhausted after walking 7+ miles that day, and the hot tub was a very welcome way to end our first day.

Day 2

We decided to start out day 2 (Tuesday) of DC with some time in Georgetown. It was neat to see the cute little row houses that lined the blocks. We spent some time shopping (which Decota and Haley loved and Declan despised), and indulged in some Georgetown Cupcakes as seen on the tv show DC Cupcakes.

I am not generally a cupcake lover, but OH MY GOSH, these cupcakes are seriously to die for. I got the caramel and was in heaven. I also tasted the coconut, yummy!!! Way to good to be legal!

We got there just in time because as soon as we got in and ordered a line formed and it went out the door. They had to have someone letting people in as others left. I guess it is like that all the time. CRAZY!!!

After we lunch we headed back to DC. First we stopped at the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Declan was so excited to go to this museum as it had a special display called The Art of Video Games. It was a pretty neat exhibit and it reminded us of how quickly and how far video games have come since the beginning. Another neat thing we saw was the original Joseph Smith portrait that you see everywhere.

The interior of this building was amazing! It was seriously a piece of art in itself.

My favorite piece in the museum was the Preamble which was done using licence plates from all of the states.

The last place we went on day two was the American History Museum. I love this museum. I love all of the memorabilia, and finding out odd little facts about the things we take for granted these days (like how when shopping carts were invented by a man in Oklahoma, he had to hire models to go into the grocery stores and promote them and show people how they worked in an effort to convince them that they were practical since nobody wanted to use them.)

The overall favorite exhibits at this museum were the First Ladies dresses and china, and the original flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner. It was soooo impressive, and especially relevant since it had flown in the War of 1812, and we had just been at the celebration of the War of 1812. The exhibit also answered all of our questions about the War of 1812, and was very moving.

Once again, we left DC with aching backs and tired legs, but it was another very successful day!

Day 3

After taking a day off to recoup, we headed back to DC for day 3 (Thursday) to finish off the things we had wanted to do but didn't get a chance to yet. This day we broke up into smaller groups in order to make sure everyone got in the things they wanted to see. I took a taxi to pick up tickets to the Holocaust Museum while the group spent some time in the National Gallery of Art. When I returned Rodney stayed and spent some more time there while the rest of us went back to the Hirshhorn to finish up the parts of the gallery we did not get to see the first day.

They had a neat exhibit on light, and we had some fun exploring it.

Then I took all 5 of the older kids to the Holocaust Museum while Lori took Ava to the Natural History Museum and Rodney went to the Native American Museum. The Holocaust Museum was so crowded. I think the crowds took away a little bit of the atmosphere of the museum. It was interesting, but not nearly as emotional as I think we were all expecting. At the beginning we went through a part called Daniel's story which was done based on the book. It was done in a way that younger kids could learn about the Holocaust without all of the trama. We all really enjoyed this section. I think the kids were prepared to be shocked in the museum, and were surprised when they were not. I think this is because of all of the books they have read on the Holocaust . When they read the books they become emotionally involved with the characters, when you walk through a museum you are just observing without the connection a book brings you. It was not until the very end that we felt any of that emotion. At the end of the tour we entered a room with seats and a huge TV screen. On that screen a video was playing interviews of survivors and rescuers of the concentration camps. The interviews were done not to long ago, and the people are now all in thier older years. They have married, raised families, and have grandchildren. They have lived long, full lives. However, as each of them started recollecting their stories of survival, of the ones they lost, of the nightmares that they witnessed, their countenances changed, thier eyes become haunted, and thier emotions betrayed them. Decades have passed, generations have been born, and yet the horror lives on deep within thier souls. As you listen to these people tell thier stories, you become emotionally involved, and what you have just seen in the museum becomes so much more real. This is when it hit me. This is when I cried.

After we left the museum we hurried to meet up with everyone so that we could get out of DC before the traffic hit and make it home in time to grill, make s'mores, and do a little kayaking before it got dark.

Our 3 busy days in DC finally took thier toll, and we had a car full of sleeping kids all the way back to Anapollis.

In the end everyone was able to see what they had hoped they would get to see in DC, and more. We had a great time, accomplished a ton, and made many, many lasting memories.

I'd say DC was one giant SUCCESS!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Today we had a bit of a down day to recover from our DC visits. We are headed back there tomorrow, so I will post all of DC at once.

We lounged around, did laundry, and pretty much just took our time all morning and into the afternoon. When we were finally up and dressed we decided to go into Annapolis and look around. We drove by one of the original 14 national cemeteries that Abraham Lincoln established, we drove by the oldest existing State House, which happens to be where Washington resigned as commander of the military, and also where he signed the Treaty of Paris, and then we parked right next to these old buildings and began our stroll through the old town shops. It is amazing that these old building still exist. The brick is beautiful, and with it's narrow streets it is easy to imagine the people of old walking down the same roads we were. It was fun to stroll through all of the little boutiques and shops and find little treasures.

We stopped in a Delly (yes, that is how they spelt it) called Chick and Ruth's Delly that was shown on the show Man vs Food, and ordered a couple 6 pound milkshakes. I am sad and glad to say we only made it through 6 pounds of milk shake total instead of 12.

When we got back to the house we decided we needed to work a little of that milkshake off so we headed to the backyard to kayak. Cambria was so excited to get in, and then thought about sharks and made a quick loop back to the dock and hopped right out. Decota and Syd loved exploring together. Declan kayaked all over the place, and then watched Ava closely as she learned. And then Lori and I took a turn at dusk and enjoyed the calm of the water and night

Rodney stayed on the dock and did a little fishing. Almost every cast brought in another fish! He helped Ava catch one and she was thrilled, but not enough to kiss it.

We have been having such a great time that when Lori and the girls were talking about how much they were going to miss us, Rodney decided we would stay an extra night and just head out to Declan's college tour real early Friday morning. Everyone just wants a little more time, so our wish was granted :)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Grand Treetop Tour

Today wee spent the day in DC being tourists; however, after walking over 7 miles everyone was to tired to download and share photos. I am pooped and ready for bed, but I decided to go ahead and give you the grand tour of the Haldeman's Vacation Paradise before I hit the sack tonight.

The view as you drive up the private drive to the house.
Looking out the front of the house to the driveway. The pond is always running and makes the most wonderfully peaceful sound <3

The front entry view from the living room.

The awesome living room with the swing, the views from the back wall of windows, and the dining area.

The kitchen. It is an awesome open floor plan and so the living room, office, front entry, dinning room, and kitchen all flow together with a fireplace in the center and windows for walls surrounding it.
The house is also filled with all kinds of random art pieces, if that is what you want to call them, like this mannequin dressed in green with a bird on it's hand.....
This is the view from the kitchen, and no ladies, the man is not always included in this view, sorry.

The hen house which no longer has hens (although it did when Rob started renting this house, and he was amused as he watched a sly fox try to get in with the hens. He did not figure it out before the hens were relocated.)

The side of the house from the hot tub.

The view from the room we stayed in. The sound of the water from the pond running all night was soooooo relaxing.

The master bedroom...

...and its view.

The stairway down to the huge game and bunk room the girls all stayed in. They also had another pond outside their room that allowed them to listen to the water all night.

The view of the front from the deck on the roof..

And one of the deck below.

The back of the house from the bottom level.

The staircase down to the dock and the detachable floating dock that can be paddled out into the bay (very Mark Twain-ish)

A view of the house from the dock.

I skipped a few rooms, but I think you get the general idea- pure AWESOMNESS!!! Every kid has a dream of having the coolest tree house around, and we feel like we are getting to stay in the adult version of that dream. When you are inside you would swear you were staying in a house in the tops of the trees. We love the house, we love our friends, and Rodney feels like he is in the perfect spot to relax. What a great experience and memory everything about the trip is. <3<3<3<3<3